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PhD Studentship (ESRC South Coast DTP) - Modelling regional variations in diet in the UK

Population, Health & Wellbeing

Location:  Highfield Campus
Salary:   £14553
Annual stipend of £14553 plus payment of programme fees.
Closing Date:   Wednesday 28 June 2017
Reference:  877817WR

Modelling regional variations in diet in the UK (South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership)

A fully funded studentship awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP)

Supervisory Team:

Dr Dianna Smith (Geography, Lead Supervisor) (, Professor Graham Moon (Geography), Dr Christina Vogel (MRC LEU), Dr Janis Baird (MRC LEU)

This project will use a repeated cross-sectional approach to explore the evolution of dietary habits in England using archived survey data on what people in England eat. The candidate will develop a personal research program using advanced quantitative methods to identify a regional typology of diets, explore the social determinants of geographical variations in diet over time, and extend small area microsimulation methods to uncover local variations in diet. The project will contribute to ongoing research aiming to enhance understanding of the dietary challenges facing the UK.

Specific research questions:

•    To what extent does diet vary geographically across England?
•    At what geographical scales are geographical variations in diet evident?
•    How have these variations changed over the past twenty  years?

Background and rationale: Sub-optimal diet accounts for c 10.8% of the UK burden of premature mortality (Newton et al 2014). Much current research on diet in the UK  focusses on individual determinants of dietary choice (Black et al 2012, 2014), on geographical access to positive (healthy) food choices (Cummins  2014), and on the promotion of healthy diets via policy instruments such as 5-a-day and exhortations to reduce salt and sugar intake (McGill et al 2015). Rather less attention has focussed on how diet varies geographically beyond generally negative assessments of the ‘Scottish diet’ (Masson and Barton 2016). This PhD will use routine secondary data – the National Diet and Nutrition Surveys and the National Food Survey -  to explore whether ‘regional diets’ are also evident within England, assess the extent to which these diets have changed over time taking simultaneous account of individual and contextual social determinants of dietary behaviour, and microsimulate small area estimates that ‘localise’ variations in diet.

Skills required of the PhD student: Experience of managing routine datasets from UKDS. Familiarity with OLS multivariable regression will be required and experience with multilevel modelling will be desired. R programming skills will be an advantage.


South Coast DTP Funding provides an annual maintenance grant (tax free) of £14553, plus payment of all programme fees.  Other funding available for SCDTP funded students can be found on the SCDTP website (

Funding is provided for 3 years full-time PhD study (pro-rata for part-time students).  Applications for 1+3 funding for students completing a Master's year prior to the commencement of PhD study are also welcome (details available at

Application Procedure

The closing date and time for applications is noon on 28th June 2017.  The full application procedure, the funding application form, and more information on the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership can be found at:

For further information about this project, please contact the lead supervisor detailsed above.  For questions relating to the application procedure, or for more information about the SCDTP, please visit the SCDTP website or contact us at


The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position



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